October turned out to be a very volatile month, with the stock markets seeing a correction and some sectors and many individual stocks slipping into bearish territory. Investors had plenty to worry about, including rising interest rates, weakness in international markets, growing effects of the trade war with China and a mixed bag from corporate earnings, as well as the midterm elections and the upcoming holiday season.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the October 15 and October 31 settlement dates, those sellers were looking for direction as short interest moves were mixed. Helios and Matheson Analytics saw another notable upswing in the numbers of its shares sold short, while Qualcomm led among the decliners during those two weeks.
Note that just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The almost 193.42 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the latter two weeks of last month were more than 3% greater than on the previous settlement date, or 15.1% of the available float. The previous reading was the lowest level of short interest in at least a year. The average daily volume pulled back marginally from in the prior period, and the days to cover slipped a bit from about seven.
The earnings report posted during the short interest period suggests Sirius is well positioned for growth. The stock ended the final two weeks of last month trading almost 3% lower, and it has fallen off even more sharply since then. The Nasdaq slipped by less than 2% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.21 on Friday, after retreating more than 10% in the past 90 days. The 52-week low of $5.17 was reached early this year, while the $7.70 multiyear high was seen back in June.
By the end of October, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 114.91 million shares short. That was more than 6 million less than the total on the previous settlement date, as well as the lowest level of short interest in the past year. That reading still represented 12.3% of the company’s float. And though the average daily volume retreated, the number of days it would take to cover all short positions remained about one.
Investors were not pleased with the mixed quarterly results posted during the period. Short sellers watched the share price pull back more than 31% in those two weeks, though it had been up more than 6% earlier. The stock closed trading most recently at $221.03 a share, which is less than 7% higher than three months ago, but down from September’s 52-week high of $34.14. Shares have changed hands at as low as $9.04 apiece in the past year.
The short interest in Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) pulled back for the second consecutive period, after rising for 16 straight periods. The number of shares short shrank by more than 4 million most recently. The more than 101.84 million shares posted for the month’s end settlement date represented 18.4% of the total float, and it was the fifth consecutive period with more than 100 million shares short. The days-to-cover figure fell from about seven to more than four as the average daily volume nearly doubled.
Caesars seemed well positioned to rebound after the volatility in October. Its share price ended the latter two weeks of the month more than 4% lower, despite being up almost 19% at one point. The stock ended Friday’s session at $8.51 per share, which is down more than 12% over the past 90 days. Its 52-week trading range is $7.95 to $14.50, and that low was seen at the end of last month.